I often feel like because same-sex attraction is so misunderstood and so denigrated, that so much of black gay male interactions end up becoming a big mess of power plays and mixed signals. So much of our sexuality is confused and complicated by how we think it affects our ability to be men in a partriarchal society.
So I am fascinated by how incredibly well Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear explore that mess and complicated masculinity in their new web prequel to The DL Chronicles, called The Chadwick Journals*.
I love the way Nic Few – who is a revelation here – plays Donovan in these scenes. He’s incredibly adept at showing how Donovan tries on different personas, different ways of being a black man, in an effort to get the upper hand. There’s also that great moment in Part 1 where he tells Chadwick, “I woulda messed around wit you for free.” Few is smart enough to keep us guessing about the truth of that statement – is he playing at vulnerability to disarm or is he actually letting his guard down? – particularly as it becomes clear that on some level Donovan is just out of his depth in this situation.
My favorite thing about Gossett and LeNear’s work is the way they commit so totally to depicting how fluid black male sexuality often is. They understand that there is so much space that lies between the (largely white-defined) closet and “outness”; that black men often bounce around in that space.
In this way, The Chadwick Journals is a lovely little chamber piece** about two men struggling at self-definition.
*The DL Chronicles ran for one season of 4 episodes on Here! TV in 2007. It was unceremoniously cancelled – despite press materials from Here! TV suggesting that a second season would be produced – probably for the same reason Logo abandoned Noah’s Arc after two abbreviated seasons because they don’t really give a shit about black people once they realize that they can get white people to watch. Gossett and LeNear are raising money through KickStarter in order to produce a second season. I encourage you to donate whatever you can so these brilliant filmmakers can bring us more great art.
**One more episode will be produced, so subscribe for the finale.
UPDATE: FINAL EPISODE